The Apology: My Love Letter to Heal Racism (A One-of-a-Kind Social Justice Picture Book)

A couple of months ago, in the final days of May, I purchased an Exhibitor Badge for the Book Expo of America (BEA), after printing 50 copies of my amazing new book, The Apology: My Love Letter to Heal Racism.  I aimed to meet the top publishers in the industry and show them the book.  The audience of literary big wigs seemed sincerely interested and engaged with the book in a beautiful way!   Additionally, as members of the public glanced at the book and opened it to peruse its contents, I received hugs, smiles, and even some tears of happiness.  These tears were a response to the knowledge that it is finally time to end racism, to make reparations, and to reconcile as White Folks come forward to acknowledge everything that’s happened in the way of the United States’ Enslavement of Black Folks, and the ensuing racism which they, and other People of Color, have had to face.

I feel really sad about everything that has happened to Black and Brown Folks, as well as All People of Color, and this is why I wrote the book.  It is a heartfelt apology from my heart to yours.  This three-part book contains: (1) allegorical stories that are typewritten, (2) beautiful, powerful and magical healing artwork I have developed over my lifetime for this purpose (to heal racism, build intercultural bridges make amends, and foster interracial reconciliation), and (3) colorfully handwritten love letters that show my appreciation for the lives of all people, and especially those of Black and Brown Folks.

It is for White Folks also, to better understand racism and how it operates, and what we need to do to interrupt it once and for all.  It is a lovely, spiritual and powerful book for all of us.  This book is about becoming one race: human.

I am seeking traditional publishing with a top company as I continue to develop the book from the feedback I was able to receive during the Book Expo.  I am also seeking an agent to help me connect with the right publisher and sell the book.

In the meantime, I continue to tweak the book, consider how to best advertise, market and sell it.  I will probably list in on Amazon in the next few weeks if I do not find an agent soon.  That way, it will be available to the public shortly.  I feel the need to make it available as soon as I am able.  I realize that it is a very important effort, and it means a lot to everybody.  That said, thank you sincerely for all of your support, love, and positive feedback!




Why “Build Intercultural Unity” through Unity Theater?

Unity Theater is an interactive, improvised arts-based theatrical experience for healing racism and all social oppressions, to bring about unity through song, storytelling, chanting, movement, deep breathing, meditation, creative visualization and civic dialogue based on the original artwork and music of Saint Angel.  It also features a community development component to aid us all in taking collective community action.  Diversity Arts will begin presenting Unity Theater in the next several months.  Centered on Saint Angel’s art to touch the heart and songs to soothe the soul, we have the starting point for a healing revolution.  Together, we are setting the stage for peace, love, justice and unity as we build a mobile sanctuary for civic engagement that restores faith, hope and love in our world.  It’s time to let our hearts soar.

Unity Theater is a process for helping us, essentially, build more love and light in the Universe.  It is a container in which a safe space is created to explore issues of our cultural diversity and unity through artistic expression.  We do this for the Highest Good, taking into account that we are, each and every one of us, special and unique creations, formed like none other, into exactly who we are and who we are meant to be, by a precious and good Creator, the Holy One, God.  Of course, we also exercise our own free will in the continued creation of ourselves, and it is thus important that we channel our wills for the highest good.  This brings good health and well being, not only to ourselves, but to everybody on Planet Earth.

When we build intercultural unity through Unity Theater, we are serving the Highest Good of ourselves, of Humanity, and of Planet Earth.  We are honoring God and Humanity, life itself, and spreading light, good, and joy to everyone, everywhere.

As we have all been hurt by the injustices of oppression, Unity Theater provides a safe place to heal and express our emotional pain associated with these wounds as well as positive feelings, holding out hope for a new day.  Within the loving arms of a special and diverse community, we express the truth within our hearts and souls, healing ourselves and each other as the performance of Unity Theater winds on. We create a space for listening.  As stories of pain and promise are told, we listen with openness and a non-judgmental stance, accepting what comes.  The tears may roll down our cheeks, our hearts may open, our laughter may be released.  We may come to see our unity, to know our oneness.  And through this process, we are moved with everyone present, to work together for positive change within our communities and our neighborhoods.

In this way, we may positively channel our difficult emotions for positive change.  Anger, pain, frustration and disappointment– the by-products of social oppression– must be channeled into something beautiful, constructive and positive for healing and productivity to take place.  The expressive arts are a way to heal as we channel our emotions constructively, explore ourselves and heal our hurts, and then feel cleansed by the healing process, thus enabling us to give to and receive support from others who may be culturally the same or different from us, and to go out into the world shining our newly strengthened light.

We have used and heard common metaphors for anger in everyday conversations with coworkers, colleagues, friends, family members, and teachers.

  • “He blew his top.”
  • “She flipped her lid.”
  • “I was beside myself.”

These are examples of people becoming separated from their minds in a psychological process of dissociation that is designed to protect us in some instances, yet it may also leave us vulnerable as we may become separated from the ability to do our best thinking.  And we need to do our best thinking — to put our thinking caps on, rather than flip our lids — when it comes to working together to end prejudice and oppression.  We need to employ all of our mental capacities and cultivate our mind’s clear thinking in order to build justice and peace.

We often don’t get anywhere with anger when we express it to others, albeit in a non-therapeutic context.  We need a safe, therapeutic space in which to express the anger, sadness and outrage that are the natural by-products of being treated unfairly, with racism or other prejudices such as sexism, ableism, ageism, classism, sizeism, and even men’s oppression– that which is targeted unfairly at men.

The theory of building intercultural unity through the Unity Theater performance works because, together, we create a safe space for dialogue and community-building where we realize we are all oppressed in some way, we state that this oppression isn’t right, this oppression doesn’t feel good to our hearts/minds/bodies/souls/spirits, and we affirm that we are all one, all connected here, on this Earthly Plane, in this one vast moment, we call “Life”.  We want to make the whole place better for everyone, out of the love we feel for each other in our hearts and souls.

This works because…

We remember that we are and have always truly been connected.  Learning, erroneously, that we were all separate and thus only out for ourselves, to greedily get the most we could while others suffered, was not the correct teaching.  If we followed in this way that we learned, it was not the correct path for us. We were erroneously taught that in order to get more for ourselves, we had to take from others, and put them down, in order to justify — erroneously — our “right” to take from them. We thought we benefited from the injustices of racism, sexism, homophobia and heterosexism, ableism, etc., when instead, we created a rat race on a treadmill spinning faster and faster inside a cage of no tomorrow. We wake up each day, spinning our wheels like we can’t get enough, spinning ourselves into a cycle of Earth’s destruction.  And most of all, we wake up feeling like Rats!  (Of course, real rats don’t deserve a bad name; they are also just another of God’s creatures with a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!)

It is time for rebirth and renewal, and a healing or tikkun of our whole world with new values of loving each other, all life, all God’s creations, the Planet Herself…

Building Intercultural Unity Through Unity Theater will help us all find our way back to the Garden [of Eden].  Through these theatrical and therapeutic means — the expressive arts and dialogue — we return to God.  We laugh and we cry together until there are no more tears of sadness, only joy.  We come together to express our piece, and find our peace… and our wholeness.  Amen.

I remain…

Elana Felice Stanger, L.C.S.W.,




They Say They Caught Me With My Hands Up, But I Didn’t Do Anything Wrong… By Elana Stanger, L.C.S.W.

How do we maintain hope at times like these when the media tells us that so much is wrong with our world?  We are told daily that the lives of immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans, women, Jews, People of Color, LGBTQI People, and just about everybody else, don’t matter and are in danger.  We feel as if we are being put in a position where we must fight for our lives and our safety or die.  We worry that will not survive if we sit idly by and do nothing.

We must condemn the hatred and animosity of our enemies while not becoming like them ourselves. This is a difficult job.  We must stay centered within ourselves, our hearts, and our minds, for the Highest Good of the Universe to manifest.  How do we take the higher road, when we are scared for our very lives and our very survival, and at the same time, take care of our hearts?

How can we be a force that grows stronger in love, truth, light and peace, rather than becoming like our enemies who choose to espouse hatred, lies, darkness, and violence?  The wicked mindset of White supremacy and those who spew racist hate speech, commit violent actions against good and innocent human beings, and harbor racist beliefs toward those same good and innocent human beings is abhorrent.  We must understand this mindset as antisocial pathology in terms of psychology.

It may be possible to treat these people psychologically.  However, it is more important that we focus on ourselves and our own mental health concerns, taking care of ourselves first, before going out into the terror of the lions’ den to convert and coax racist White supremacists from out of the darkness and into the light, although some of us may have the resources and inclination to do this work.

It is hard to accept that someone who we have elected to be the leader of our beloved country, a country of beautifully diverse individual citizens and groups, espouses these same erroneous beliefs and mindset.

Therefore, I would now like to suggest a few supportive exercises to sustain and grow our mental health while having to combat racism and White supremacy.  Turn of the TV, the phone, the computer. Then, do these four things: (1) rest, (2) sit in meditation and practice deep breathing, (3) take quiet walks in nature, and (4) write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal.  These practices that will help us find inner peace, quiet, balance, and will make us all more effective activists, healers and artists fighting for the Truth, Worth and Dignity of All of Us.

Remember to Rest

Rest is important.  I offer some guidance on rest here: Remember to Rest.

Meditation and Deep Breathing

If you do not already have one, start a daily practice of breathing deeply for 10 to 20 minutes.  I offer some guidance on meditation practice here: Daily Meditation.

Walks in Nature

Go to a neighborhood park or the woods if you have them nearby, or just take a quiet walk around the block, taking in the sights and sounds and practicing deep breathing as you walk.  Stretch and relax your limbs.  As you walk, let the chatter in your mind dissipate as you find your quiet center.  Stand near a tree and feel yourself calmly inhale the oxygen it is producing for your breathing pleasure.  Feel your heart calm down inside of your chest as you breathe.  Turn up the corners of your mouth slightly into a relaxed smile.  Remember it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown, so turn that frown upside down…


Writing in a journal or notebook can help you sort out your thinking.  Placing the stressful thoughts and feelings outside of you so you no longer carry them around inside of you where they can fester, contaminate your precious mind, and create a sense of overwhelm, is possible.  Just write everything down, your fears, your cares, your worries… You might just feel so relieved by the time you are done, that you feel ready to run a marathon, literally or figuratively.  As you write, you might also come up with some great ideas to execute in the work of social justice and building intercultural unity!



Peace Star by Elana Stanger


I dedicate this Peace Star to all my beloved Jewish sisters and brothers who aim to make peace and bring harmony to everyone everywhere through the pursuit of social justice and truth. And to all those who work for peace and social justice, may we all come to know peace swiftly and soon, everywhere, in our lifetimes! Amen.

Peace Star design by Elana Felice Stanger, L.C.S.W.

More of this artwork to help us communicate a vision of peace and social justice may be viewed at

How Racism Hurts Us, White People, Too

This article was published in the May 2016 issue of the Newsletter of the Pennsylvania Society for Clinical Social Work.


How Racism Hurts Us, White People, Too

By Elana Stanger, LCSW

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time.  But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

— Lilla Watson

“If White people have suffered less obviously from racism than Black people, they have nevertheless suffered greatly; the cost has been greater perhaps than we can yet know.  If the White man has inflicted the wound of racism upon Black men, the cost has been that he would receive the mirror image of that wound unto himself.  As the master, or as a member of the dominant race, he has felt little compulsion to acknowledge it or speak of it; the more painful it has grown, the more deeply he has hidden it within himself.  But the wound is there, and it is a profound disorder, as great a damage in his mind as it is in society.”

— Wendell Berry

White Liberation from the Role of the Oppressor

A lot of times, White people have difficulty with and avoid the discussion around being White and what it means to be a White person in our society.  Feelings come up that we learned to suppress and about which we learned to remain in sustained denial.  We had to do this for our survival, and when we tried as young people to question or struggle against the injustice when we noticed it, we were squelched and adultism came into play.  We listened to those in authority, our parents or caregivers, family members, teachers, those in whom we knew we had to trust, those who had already been hurt by internalizing their role as the oppressor.  Perhaps we became numb from denial.   

As a facilitator of intercultural dialogue and healing racism through art for the last 25 years, I sometimes have asked a question of the groups with whom I have spoken, “At what age and during what experience might you have first realized that you were White?”  

I eventually share that I grew up in the Bronx, a very culturally diverse environment in New York City. When I tell people I am from the Bronx and they see that I am a person considered to be White, they often question what part of the Bronx I am from.  Well, I am from the part of the Bronx that includes people of all races, nationalities, languages, religions, genders, sexual orientations, ages, mental and physical abilities, educational levels, socioeconomic classes, sizes, etc.  The diversity of New York is wonderful and provided me with a most valuable and significant education, simply in terms of being able to grow up in my neighborhood and go to public schools where diversity was, and is, ubiquitous.  

I did not learn that I was a person considered White until I arrived at Ithaca College in Upstate New York, a homogenous White environment, at 17 years of age.  I was experiencing extreme culture shock, and I wondered whether the people of color were feeling something similar.  I could blend in, but many could not blend in the same fashion.  I was so uncomfortable that I took a vow to do something about this situation before I graduated.  This led to the birth of Students for an Interracial Dialogue, a student organization which I founded to hold dialogues on the campus about race and racism.  They were well-attended by hundreds of students, faculty, and members of the wider community.  I had discovered my calling as a facilitator of interracial communication.  This calling led me to open an art gallery and community center devoted to cultural diversity awareness and building bridges, leading prejudice-reduction workshops nationally, and conducting diversity training and consulting for large corporations.  I also began creating artwork around cultural diversity issues and have maintained a website of my artwork, also making it available on products, for many years.  

Around the room at the workshop, however, many of these White folks shared that they knew they were White for as long as they could remember.    

Being One’s Authentic Self

As Therapists, most of us are concerned with the authentic self and help our clients to find their own authenticity and their own truth.  Yet, many White Therapists do not take the time to consider the ways we have been hurt by racism and how this system has greatly impacted our ability to be fully human and authentic.  Many of us carry around the burden of guilt, shame, anxiety, and other stressors connected to racism.  We have had to remain in denial, lest we notice too clearly the frightening impact that this injustice has on people of color.  Racism makes us mean, selfish, and greedy.  It has caused us to embrace a role that is often devoid of creativity, uniqueness and authenticity, while we are merely trying to blend in.  Most of all, being White has kept us artificially separate and isolated from the entirety of humanity.

Having Your Heart in the Right Place

So, what can we do?  We can collectively make sure our hearts are in the right place.  This means that we must daily, actively work toward the dismantling of racism within our inner and outer worlds, our psyches and our society.  How do we do this?  We offer lovingkindness, compassion, truth, acknowledgment of the injustice.  We act in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, with people of color everywhere, and we respond with love and acceptance. We respond with a heart-felt desire to make everything as right as possible, to bring justice, to bring peace.

Having Your Mind in the Right Place

Knowledge is power.  Let us participate in learning groups and activities for healing racism.  Let us learn about the histories and cultures of those in our midst who may have a different skin color.  Let us acknowledge the horrific experience of the enslavement of African peoples and the African diaspora as a story of survival that is extraordinary, real, and worthy of our utmost respect.

Having Your Soul in the Right Place

Our souls long to be connected with all of our brothers and sisters as one human family, one people, and one race.  Let us leave behind denial and learn to follow that instinct that leads us forward to explore and discover a new day, one based on justice and equality, love and authenticity.  Let us gently, yet with strength and fortitude, honor that spark that unites us all.

Compassion and Self-Compassion

It is important to heal ourselves from the effects of racism that we, too, have internalized indirectly as White people.  We may do this with compassion for ourselves.  It is also important that we have and exhibit compassion for others, as we have compassion for ourselves.  It is important to allow ourselves to try something new, to make mistakes if necessary, as this may be the only way to learn.  Let us find safe spaces in which to do our own healing work, give up our role as oppressors, and right the scales of justice.  We do this for our own liberation, too.

Being an Ambassador of the White Race

Remember to be an ambassador of the White race.  Give some thought to what it means to be an ambassador.  An ambassador is defined as an accredited diplomat sent by one country as its official representative to another country.  When we are doing the work of building intercultural bridges, let us be intelligent, gracious, and respectful of those with whom we interact.

Elana Stanger is a licensed clinical social worker who has been involved in the work of bringing cultural diversity awareness through art and healing racism for the last 25 years.  She is currently publishing a book of her spiritual and inspirational art and writing called, The Apology: The Art of Interracial Healing and Building Intercultural Unity.  She would like you to visit to consider what it would mean to apologize to people of color for racism, and write an original apology.  Elana’s diversity artwork, Art to Touch the Heart, and her blog, The Love Letter, may also be helpful resources:  Also see for information about what Elana is doing to heal racism on a deeper level.  Contact Elana:

Race or Care? : A Poem by Elana Stanger, L.C.S.W.

Sharing One Smile Small for Web copy

If we keep running the RACE,

We’ll never win,

If we start to CARE,

Let the healing begin.



It’s up to us;

Let’s choose to CARE

So we may learn to trust.


We all ask forgiveness for

Our heinous crimes

“I apologize,” we say,

And it even rhymes.


RACE PRIVILEGE is no more,

“Bye, bye,” we say

As we embrace CARE and KINDNESS

Love will light our way —


Truth and Reconcilliation

And for ALL a brighter day,

When the RACE will have ended

And we ALL come out to play.


— Elana Stanger, a.k.a. Saint Angel


Please also see  This website offers a place to apologize for our racism and to heal so that we may bring the brighter day mentioned in the poem above. Thank you in advance!